Melissa Edwards: Is there any truth in the reports that you resigned
from the PPP?
Nagamootoo: I don't know what reports you are talking about,
but I know that there have been speculations over what happened
to me and about what I should do with my political life. Let me
say this: all my life I have been a PPP man. I have had difficulties
with an interest group in the leadership of this party over whether
or not issues have been addressed and attended to. Because of
the disagreement over how some of these issues have been handled,
the more recent being the so-called Gajraj Affair, that I walked
out from a leadership meeting of the party. I was surprised (and
`surprise' is a mild word) that my colleagues responded to my
walkout from the meeting by sending me a letter thanking me for
my resignation from the Executive Committee of the party. Now
this has not been told to the public, and I want them to know
that I was "resigned" by my colleagues as a member of
the Executive Committee. I have not sent a letter of resignation.
We had had a disagreement over a contentious issue in the handling
of the Gajraj Affair, at least the exit strategy, and I walked
out from that meeting. So I was taken back that some of my colleagues
do in fact want me out of the leadership of the party and they
pressed the panic button, (and I know the reason why this happened
so early before the upcoming congress of the PPP). I sent a letter
to the General Secretary of the party, Mr. Donald Ramotar, saying
that I have not resigned from the Executive Committee. I have
had no response to that letter, no reply, not even the courtesy
of an acknowledgement. Donald Ramotar told me privately that I
had sent him a letter that he didn't know how to reply to. Yet,
I understand that a smear campaign has been orchestrated and is
in full swing to discredit me and my association with and history
in the PPP. My point is that if I am disengaging or walking away
because of dissatisfaction with the way the leadership has failed
to lead, has failed to offer a vibrant leadership to this party
I have been associated with for some 44 years, it does not mean
that I am walking into any thing or any other force. I intend
to walk down and go to where I have come, which is the grassroots,
which is among the masses, which is among the supporters of the
party, which is my people, and I intend for them to understand
that the issues I questioned the leadership about are issues critical
to their future in Guyana. This is where the matter is, and no
smear campaign, character assassination, invectives and calumnies
thrown at me would resolve this issue of difference over certain
positions taken or not taken.
So I have indicated that I would not renew my membership in the
party, which I did not do. My wife has not renewed her membership.
She has been in the party well over 35 years. That was done in
There are a number of issues including governance, the question
of national unity, the question of strengthening the leadership
of the party and organizationally make it more effective and responsive
to the needs and aspirations of at least its supporters. And none
of these issues has been addressed. So (my disagreement with the
leadership) has not been a recent development. This is a post
Cheddi Jagan development. So regarding this speculation as to
where I go next - all I can say now as I am speaking with you
is that I consider myself a PPP man taking a strong protest action
because of difference with the leadership.
Edwards: But if Mr. Ramotar respond to your letter and say that
he apologised or a mistake has been made, would you remain in
the party or would you look elsewhere?
Nagamootoo: Well, hypothetically, if Mr. Ramotar sends me a
letter tomorrow and says, "Can we sit and talk", I will
sit and talk. I don't think that the issues on the table are insurmountable.
They are political issues. I am a politician: I have been long
in the political arena to know that there are ways in which conflicts
are resolved and one of these is by discussion; one of these ways
is to try to hammer out the differences. I don't think that these
are issues over which I need to go to war with the leadership
but I think that they are still critical, that it will help any
organisation, especially the PPP, to become a more effective organisation.
For example, one of the issues, which is more recent, is: how
do we react to a member of the leadership going public and calling
me a liar, and heaping calumnies on me in public, because I stood
up on an issue, the Ramjattan issue?
I had said that I heard Ramjattan being accused with being a spy,
of carrying news to the American Embassy. I didn't say that the
ones who said that they didn't hear were lying. I did not go public
and call them liars. So, no one, including the President and Robert
Persaud, had any right as members of my organisation, to go public
and accuse me with lying and trying to pull the President down.
That is an issue, a serious issue, because I consider the matter
of integrity and honesty and honour in an organisation as very
Edwards: Let us say, looking ahead, if things do work out with
the discussion, would you still not join back with the leadership?
Nagamootoo: As I said, at this moment, I have not had a definitive
fracture in my relationship with the party. I don't have personal
animosity towards members of the leadership I know that some of
them have interests of their own, and these interests which they
hold are forcing them to take certain position of hostility as
if the differences over issues cannot be resolved. How do you
deal with issues? Look here, when I raised allegations of corruption
against Gajraj one member of my leadership stood up and said that
I should know that not all allegations of corruption could be
investigated! I am amazed at that, to say the least, because this
party came into office strongly on the issue of accountability,
strongly on the issue of good governance, and strongly on the
issue of integrity. Cheddi Jagan was the one who had set a high
goal for us that we must at all times behave ethically correct,
we must at all times defend the public trust in us by being fully
accountable and you must deal with all and every allegation of
corruption. I have raised in the party leadership questions about
the Lotto funds. I have raised issue over the wildlife matter,
the dolphin issue. I have raised those not because I had something
personal against any individual. When Clement Rohee's visa was
denied or revoked by the U.S. I raised that and asked : "Would
Clement Rohee say why his visa has been revoked?"
He said, "I have nothing to say". I don't think that
is tenable in an organisation! When you raise issues you feel
that these issues must be seriously investigated. So I say this:
yes, I can talk with my colleagues if they are willing to look
into the issues, and we talk about them, why not? I have not closed
the door to the PPP. I have not resigned from the PPP. Not renewing
my membership in the PPP is one thing if I do so in protest, if
I do so to put pressure on my colleagues and say "hey, wake
up, wake up! We have serious things ahead of us; we have a commitment,
we have a destiny with the Guyanese people to do things better!"
Edwards: Don't you think that you should remain in the PPP to
make some changes?
Nagamootoo: Well, I have tried my best, I have always tried to
make reforms within the PPP. In politics you have to be very flexible;
you must be open to compromise, to take into consideration even
the influences outside the party.
Now we are facing not a big battle how to win power. We won power.
There are many people who sacrificed to win this power. There
are many people who suffered for it. I have been one who over
all the years put my life and that of my family on the line so
that we can have a change in this country. What we are facing
now is how to perfect our democracy, how to make the society inclusive,
how to bring about national unity so that we can move this society
forward together - all the political parties, all the social partners.
So that what I am saying is that in trying to bring about some
change within the PPP I was doing that for Guyana. I was doing
that so that we have a better society, a better governance, and
a better democracy that must be respected in the world. But let
me tell you this: if I can't do this in the party no one would
stop me from trying to do that outside, but as I said my method
of doing that is to go down to the people, the masses. They are
the ones who created in me at least an image that I have a contribution
to make and I would not deny them that contribution. For now I
can tell you this: I know the party congress is coming up shortly.
I don't intend to go to the congress because the issues have not
been dealt with. I don't intend to seek re-election to any office
or post in the party but I will still remain as vocal as I have
always been -- an advocate for change, so that can have a better
political climate and culture in the country, and better leadership
with a greater vision for our country. And I want members and
supporters of my party to understand this, because in the smear
campaign people are saying that I am leaving and joining the third
or whatever force. People had approached me - many persons approached
me to join up with some other force. My position is that I am
not walking into any other force. I have to see what the mood
of the society is, but I am not a member of a third force, I am
not associated with any such force. I have not even given it a
serious thought. The slander campaign will not help because if
I cannot find a platform in the PPP to advance those ideals with
which I have been associated all my life, I certainly will find
a platform elsewhere once the people are receptive to what I have
to offer. I am not closing the door to anything. The options are
Edwards: As you go around you find lots of enthusiasm on the
road for Trotman and Ramjattan, and many young lawyers, even lecturers,
say they will join. Do you think this will manifest itself into
Nagamootoo: In politics there is a body of goodwill: People
always want change. They want something different and something
new. That is the cardinal point of life, that you must always
want something new, something better.
Let me tell you this: Ramjattan and Trotman, at least the two
names you called, are very attractive for all the reasons you
have mentioned. They are bright; they are young; they are articulate;
they have political grooming in the two major parties. Well, during
the Vietnam War, the leader of the National Liberation Front,
Ho Chi Ming, said that after the war, "a thousand flowers
will bloom". I will like to see in Guyana many flowers blooming.
We have inherited fifty years of political legacy where we have
seen some thing blooming, but many because of the political culture,
have not been allowed to. They were killed or pushed out and the
climate had been for many years almost barren. Except for very
brief periods. One of those periods was during the Walter Rodney
struggle. Another was when Cheddi Jagan became the President.
There were great excitement, great expectations, among people.
So, we are seeing that now there is some expectations among people
that they want a change. I do not think necessarily that any other
party or force or movement coming to the scene is a bad thing
because we have to deal with a plural political culture where
there must be room for all - room for more politicians, more revolutionaries,
and more democrats because this will help the country. The best
way of going forward is to place options before your people. The
people who are now young, the now generation, they don't know
much of what we did. I am sure that many young people don't know
who Nagamootoo was in the anti-colonial struggle. They don't care
to know even what he did in the 60s, or the 70s or in the 80s,
when we fought against a dictatorial government and we fought
for free and fair elections. They just want to know what happens
tomorrow; what their life would be tomorrow: will they all be
forced to leave the country, will they all be ensnared in banditry,
will they all be stalked by the spectre of crime and drugs and
prostitution and AIDS. They want a way forward and I believe that
all the flowers must be allowed to bloom and we should allow the
Guyanese people the opportunity to be presented with all the formulae,
all the ideas by which we can go forward. I believe that theoretically
a third force or whatever you may call it, should be welcome.
Edwards: Going back to the third force. You said that it is
something you have not considered. But do you have any intention
of joining them?
Nagamootoo: Some years ago, I was traveling in London and as
I looked up ahead of me, coming from the airport, I saw a Cross
leaning like this. As I passed, I looked back and saw some writing,
saying "even the uncertain happens". So if you ask me
if I would join the third force my answer would be: "Who
knows. Even the uncertain can happen!" But at this time,
I am not giving it a thought. I am involved in a protest. I am
involved in sending a serious message to the members and supporters
of my party, the PPP, that they should start raising questions
and one of the questions should be: "What are they doing
to comrade Moses?" and another could be, "Should we
allow an interest group to do what they are doing to comrade Moses?"
Should they trust these people? Could they not do this to others?
They should look ahead and think, and ask why should we allow
the best fighters in the land to be selectively destroyed?
I consider my ouster from the leadership of the PPP a bloodless
assassination, at least for now. And those who have scripted my
assassination, my political assassination, and they have been
allowed so far to get away with it. If that to Comrade Moses that
this is the time PPP members should wake up and ask questions.
I thing this should be the time to have the greatest unity and
cohesion in our ranks, it will not help us to sow disunity at
Nagamootoo Talks with Kaieteur News
Andrew Richards (KN): What are your views on the political situation
in the country at this time with regards to the major political
parties not seeing eye to eye and the general population would
seem to think this will not benefit the country as they seem to
be bickering all the time?
Moses Nagamootoo: The question whether the two parties "seem
to be bickering" has to be seen in a wider context of the
system of government obtained in Guyana. The Guyana system is
that of a hybrid Westminster model - a type of parliamentary system
where you have a government and an opposition. Our system evolved
basically as a two-party system. And that has been so in the post
independence period - the major parties being the PPP and PNC.
And both of these parties are largely and perhaps exclusively
race-based parties. Their support comes, respectively, from Indo-
and Afro- Guyanese. The Amerindian, Chinese, mixed and other minorities
in the population are not strong enough constituency to affect
the pre-eminence of the two major race groups as the deciders
of the electoral destiny of either of the two parties or both
of these parties. So where you have a system based on the size
of the ethnic support - Indo-Guyanese, 46 to 47 per cent of the
electorate; Afro-Guyanese 41 to 42 - there is a contest for power
based on their respective numerical strength. And so, the coming
into office of one party is often seen as the exclusive of the
other party, meaning one race onside and the other race outside.
Therefore the tension of the society, the insecurity in the society,
is spawned by a system of governance that is more exclusionary
Both parties are going to deny this but denial is only postponing
the search for a solution. And the trauma that you have, which
is a political problematic, is caused by this exclusion. And,
rather, because of this exclusion. It is caused by it and because
of it. That is where we are in Guyana - a kind of contentious
sometimes acrimonious relationship between the two political parties
because of the interplay of ethnic factors at the electoral level.
Richards: I gather that you are saying that the system of governance
should be changed?
Nagamootoo: I believe that every country, being challenged by
its own history and peculiarities, mainly the nature and character
of its minorities, must evolve political systems that will help
create an atmosphere of togetherness and stability. You don't
want a situation like Rwanda where one tribe, the Hutus, feel
that they have been marginalised by the Tutsis and other tribes.
Rwandians saw each others not as Rwandians but as Hutus and Tutsis.
And the solution they had found was the decimation of one of the
two tribal ethnicities. The alternative therefore is how to have
togetherness and upon what model it can be built upon. I have
always felt that in keeping with Guyana's experience and history
there should be a system of shared governance.
Richards: There are many definitions of "shared governance".
Nagamootoo: First of all, the shared governance I am talking about
must recognize that what we have in Guyana is a multi-party, multi-ethnic,
plural system. So immediately I am not talking about shared governance
that presupposes the destruction of the plural nature of the state,
because there are some people who are saying "why can't the
two parties come together as one party and finish this contest".
I don't believe so. I believe that there are interests that can
be defined and interests that are legitimate that can best be
advanced if they are advocated. The withering away of political
parties, I believe, would not help the cause of advancing these
interests. But the interest of a particular section or sections
of the society must not replace the national interest. Therefore,
while you have a multi-party system, we must also have a national
approach by the political parties that places the national interest
first. Hence, my concept of shared governance is based on a programmatic
approach where political parties can conference and dialogue to
bring about a minimum programme where no interest is excluded.
So you start by building a comfort zone between and among political
parties, particularly the major parties that firstly, while their
supporters interests are catered for, this is seen as an imperative
to push the national interest, which is national development.
Secondly, there must be recognition by the parties that they must
be constrained by the boundaries of democracy. You must accept
what you are attempting to do here must be done within the framework
of a democracy. In other words, you cannot have a political party
committing itself to national development but at every opportunity
it subverts it - it boycotts parliament at every opportunity,
it stages demonstrations, incites and foments violence and racial
attacks and, tacitly or implicitly, supports insurgency, like
what I thought Buxton was - an insurgency with a different form
of threat to the national interest though it is called crime.
So you have to be able to see this shared governance within the
framework of a shared programme, with the parties committing themselves
to a system of democracy, where the rule of law is not undermined
and there is good governance.
You must know that when I say shared governance I have not said
anything about sharing the Cabinet. I am talking how you go about
uniting, putting up a strong fence, because you are dealing here
with the high wind of division and suspicion and insecurity. You
want a good fence that can stand up so it must be rooted in the
people, in a democracy. Parties must conform to the norms of democracy.
You cannot go around with guns, licking up and breaking down because
you have differences and you have problems. You have to realize
that problems can be resolved within the context of talks, discussions
and negotiations and so on.
And then when you do that you go to the next level of coalition
building, once we can hammer out what things need to be done.
It's important to get something done. I am diverting to deal with
the Buxton syndrome. Buxton was the model of a revolutionary society
in the post slavery period - a model of emancipation, self- emancipation
and cooperation, and so on. Buxton was once provided with sterling
leadership - Eusi Kwayana, Walter Rodney and younger types like
David Hinds - leadership native to Buxton by others peripheral
to Buxton. Many gave Buxton the example by which young people
should be guided. I recall the fight in the 70s for land on the
East Coast. Buxton and other African villagers wanted things that
could benefit their own communities, which they were denied. They
felt in the post independence period, they felt betrayed by their
own. They wanted other messiahs. They were looking to their own
for leadership. They weren't looking to Cheddi Jagan to provide
that leadership. They had identifies with Kwayana and later Rodney.
Rodney was killed. Then you saw over a period of time the withdrawal
of leadership - Kwayana withdrew. So, you had a situation where
a once vibrant, dynamic, revolutionary culture had descended to
the culture of the mob that could be manipulated as it was because
So if you come back to what I was saying about coalition building.
If I could bring my interest to the table, I am leading my people
in a way. I don't mind if you call me an `opposition' once I am
able to have an avenue where I can present my interest. I don't
mind if you form the government, but I want you to do x, y and
x for my people, my constituent, because I don't want them to
be leader-less. I want to be able to direct their energies and
talent to fruitful channels instead of them feeling leaderless
and developing mob instinct, which results in violence and crime,
that is, an interest that is neither the interest of their community
nor the national interest. It becomes an interest that is a gang
interest -narrow and parochial, that is subversive, to say the
least, of all other interests. So if you have coalition building
you would trust each other. You would advance mini-agendas that
tie in with the bigger agenda, which is the national agenda. And
if you learn to build on that coalition, then it may not exclude
power-sharing in a cabinet. But how do you get that is not an
immediate objective, if it is possible at all. I don't think you
can constitutionalise for it; you can't engineer the Constitution
to provide for it. This has to come as a social movement, as a
political development, where you feel that your country is ripe
for it. I feel this has not been given enough attention, and because
this is so because there is no platform for the cooperation of
the two major parties and thence the two major races. My sincere
view is that we have to build a platform for this and we have
to explore constantly ways and means of bringing about this vital
Richards: Don't you feel that Parliament is the place where
this could come about, and where you can make representation for
your constituency before sharing cabinet? And what do you think
of the operation of parliament right now?
Nagamootoo: I have said before, and I think I was quoting Julius
Nyerere, the former MPresident of Tanzania, when he said that
the concept of Her Majesty's Loyal Opposition is not one that
has been tailored for the peculiarities of third world and other
countries that have their history in division between races, tribes,
religious groupings and, perhaps, in geographical differences.
In India you had Hindus and Muslims, the two large religious groups.
The resolution of problems was not to have Indian Hindu governance
with Moslem feeling dominated. However we may feel that the British
manoeuvred and conspired to engineer the fragmentation of India
by the creation of Pakistan, you have to recognize an objective
reality that was working in people's minds and that was exploited,
that a majority of Moslems felt, perhaps wrongly so, that India
was a Hindu state and therefore they should have a state of their
own. They didn't think about going into an opposition. You see
what has happened in Yugoslavia - now you have Bosnia, Croatia,
Serbia, Macedonia. And all of that in one area, where you thought
people were monolith, at least they were all White. They were
all Caucasians, until you heard all those bizarre stories of ethnic
cleansing and genocide.
Or places like Biafra and Eritrea, where you have different geographic
groupings who want to go their separate way.
So, this concept of Her Majesty's loyal opposition where you could
go to parliament and articulate an interest is not suited for
fractured societies. You have to have an autochthonous model -
a concept advanced by (Harold) Luchman and (Rudy) James -which
is an indigenous model of evolving systems that best suit your
own experience and environment.
Yes, here we have a parliament, and we have advocacy in parliament.
But the kinds of problems we are locating at this point in time
is whether the opposition feels that way parliament functions,
allows its issues to be on the table or whether there is a parliament
that is a mere rubber stamp or has an iron-clad majority which
gets its own way. Recently, the operation of parliament has been
modified and there are six committees, but I don't know if they
are all fully composed and up and running, or operationalised.
But surely, parliament is a place for debate, for discussion,
for the distilling of views to arrive at national consensus. I
agree that it is there that you should have the kernel of your
debate, where within those halls, there should be the fullest
possible scope for discussing policies. No policy ought to be
put into practice without parliament approval, or if it not going
to be implemented, without its sanction. But how does parliament
address the issue of the ethnic divide where one group feels that
the other ethnic group is "pon top" and they are outside.
How does it address the issues that had been canvassed recently
of economic and political marginalization? You have an Ethnic
Relations Commission that deals with the issue of discrimination,
and it might very well say there is no racial discrimination in
the country. But you still have a perception that you need to
address. That is why I say that the idea of shared governance,
without being an immediate coalition government set-up, can develop
relationship of cooperation between the two parties that could
address the issue of suspicion about domination and the pre-eminence
of one group over the other. Power in Guyana is like a disease
of the mind, an obsession, that power is about manipulation about
spinning issues, spinning propaganda, winning over, buying access
with tax payers' money, giving social bribes. Power is like a
pork barrel or a gravy train. It's about getting or bringing people
on board because you can give them some thing. But power must
be more purposeful. It has to be legitimized, and legitimate power
is power than can be exercised when all people see that that power
represents them, that power is them!
In other words, your parliament is okay but you need people's
power and people's power has to be seen only in the active cooperation
of the people and their parties, in this case, the PPP and the
PNC. And I am not backing down from this concept. I think that
the PNC has been very disappointing in most cases. It has not
shown the type of leadership that is broad-minded or has a broad
vision, and is sensitive enough to the feelings of the Guyanese
people. I think that a lot of what has passed off as opposition
from the PNC is lot of arrogance that doesn't have anything to
do with the way people feel about it. For example, that it should
not apologise for its mistakes and crimes against the Guyanese
people. But be that as it may, I still feel that there is a responsibility
on the part of the governing party to recognize that we are heading
towards a difficult wall. You need to open up the way, and this
has to be done through cooperation. If we don't do that then you
are not exercising the mandate given to you to pave the way for
Richards: Looking at the shared governance you are talking about,
at what level should this cooperation come about - through dialogue,
sharing the Cabinet?
Nagamootoo: You need dialogue but basic dialogue itself won't
bring about cooperation. We have already a functional or the political
infrastructure by which cooperation could take place. Here it
is you have the PPP in Government, the PNC in control of Region
Four, a strategic region, and GGG in control of the Capital city.
If the national objective as represented by the government is
to succeed, this depends on the cooperation of the region and
the city. You have a political tripod in Region Four alone that
should tell you that if you don't work out forms of cooperation
that would include all these players, you would end up with what
we had in January - the Great Flood - when we started a game of
blame: The government blamed the city, the city blamed the region,
the region blamed the government. You know that we were in a vicious
circle. It was like a dog chasing its own tail, which I call the
blame-game. But if you had sat down and brought up all the parties
together - not only these parties but other players in civil society
like the chamber of commerce, the trade unions, and everybody
else - and if you had thought that coalition building is about
cooperation, you would have included everybody, giving them a
role, see where the finance is suppose to be, and work things
out. Why should the President want to go to open a koker? You
have a Mayor! By forward-planning with the others, the President
would have had foresight to foretell what was coming.
The Regional Chairman, wrongly or rightly, claimed that he had
written a letter to the Minister requesting funds to clear the
drains and the kokers, and he was not given the funds. The Chairman
blamed the Minister, but who becomes the victim of the blame game?
The people. Whereas you should have a policy of people's power,
where the people's interest is paramount, you now have the people
becoming the scapegoats of a political blame-game.
On the wider scale, of the 10 regions, the PPP controls 5 and
the PNC 5. So, you already have a shared system, but you need
to address the issue of cooperation. Unfortunately, our post-independence
politics has been that the group that's outside wants to get in
and the group that's inside wants to stay in, so you keep those
who are out, out. By that, we start out relationship on the basis
of confrontation. Already you have the infrastructure of cooperation
starting from the NDCs - the neighbourhoods coming to the top:
the cities and regions. You need a model of cooperation not just
a forum where you talk. You need to seriously start to work from
the bottom, where there is already functional cooperation in the
villages, where people see each others as brothers and as their
brother's keepers. You need to address the suspicions at the village
level, where people feel that those who run things are helping
their friends and families- giving them contracts to clean the
drains, dig the trenches and clear the garbage, etc. People think
this is feather-bedding. And where you have suspicions between
ethnic groupings, it assumes a dimension that it is racial suspicions.
This is what we have to avoid, and so we must, for example, address
the perception of exclusion of Africans. How do you address this?
Begin an active search for inclusionary mechanisms and my point
is you can't have that simply by saying we must have a government
and an opposition, and call this democracy. Cooperation and shared
governance would not come that way - by way of elections every
five years where those who are out, must stay out. There must
be a mechanism in Guyana where you don't end up having losers
after every election. We need to development a concept of everybody
winning rather than a feeling that one section of the country
has been rejected, marginalized or lost. But I don't think there
is any easy way of solving that (feeling of marginalization).
We have already had fifty years of experience that has not brought
about a change, therefore you have to intensify the search.
Richards: Fifty years and not much changed. There is a new movement
- Ramjattan and Trotman came out with statements that something
is wrong about the political culture or politics of the two major
parties, and they are forming a movement to bring about a wind
of change in the political arena. Do you think this movement could
make a difference?
Nagamootoo: In the height of the Vietnam War, I remember a very
beautiful statement by Ho Chi Ming (leader of the National Liberation
Front) that after the war, a thousand flowers must bloom. I believe
that in Guyana a thousand flowers must be allowed to bloom - there
must be room for all shades of ideas and views and political opinions.
There must be a place for all classes and strata, who are patriotic
and democratic and want to make an honest contribution.
I have seen that the two-party system in Guyana, rather than fostering
a culture of a thousand flowers blooming, it has been impaling
the brightest carnations on their fence of thorns. We have seen
one such carnation, perhaps the most brilliant, in the person
of Walter Rodney, who was a victim. He wanted to make a contribution
as a patriot, as a revolutionary. He wanted to make Guyana be.
But he was killed for it. And he would not be the first or the
last victim. The alienation or the expulsion of Khemraj Ramjattan
from the PPP was a mistake. However calculated it was, it would
carry a price. Ramjattan is young and articulate, and he has a
contribution to make. If it is not needed in the PPP or even tolerated,
the people must be allowed to decide if his contribution can bloom
outside. Trotman is idealistic, highly motivated and has a good
heart for his country. I have been acquainted with him for many
years. We read law together. And I might accept some guilt that
the dissident in him might be due to some initial promptings on
my part that he should get involved in the life and politics of
his country. However, to be able to make a qualified opinion on
what is bandied about as the "third force" I need to
ask my self many questions: whether (a) there is a climate of
oppression in Guyana, (b) whether there is a mood in the society
that favours a political change or the displacement of one or
the other of the major political parties and (c) whether a new
force, party or movement can succeed if it is merely a conventional
body out to catch votes and not be revolutionary in bringing people
purposefully into effecting a new order.
I spent 44 years now in association with the PPP starting my outing
at 14 in 1961 - and I don't feel that I have the energy or the
passion to re-enter the past and to build anew a conventional
political organisation. I don't have the years to revive that
passion. So I will be looking at any new organisation to see if
it has the capacity to become a broad front of all interests and
forces and if the people want such a front for national salvation,
whose purpose must be national unity, with a programme that reflects
the interest of all the nation's people, and the peace and stability
of the country. This so-called third, centre or new force cannot
be a small thing just giving politics a try. It ought to be or
have the potential as an organisation to mirror and reflect broader
feelings and sentiments of the society. A euphoria could develop
that would bring changes that you might thing at the moment as
not being possible! But we have to see whether there is an objective
mood for change, for a new culture, for a system that guarantees
the Rule of Law, good governance accountability by determination
to weed out excess and corruption. This "thing" must
contain within it the possibilities of growing into `something'.
It can't start simply from a notion that "we gon form a lil
organisation here and our objective is to have two or three seats
or we're going to be a go-between". If its starts like that,
I don't think that the vision is well focused. There was a man
from America who came here for elections (Gaborde). He used to
raise his index finger and say that he wanted only one seat. I
always felt that he wanted to put in his bio data that he was
a presidential candidate in Guyana, and that he had won one seat
(in Parliament). Well I don't agree with people who want to promote
their individual ambition at the expense of the aspiration and
hopes of the people. So, as I see it, any new party must be a
movement that coincides with the national aspirations. A new force
must invite the people to burst out of their cocoon of ethnic
insecurity. So it has to be ambitious if it were to succeed.
Richards: You mentioned being in politics for about 44 years.
You sound a bit tired. What are your immediate plans?
Nagamootoo: I have had some difficulties in the leadership of
my party. Since the death of Cheddi Jagan, my contributions have
been met with growing intolerance and hostility.
I couldn't say that all the experience I have brought into the
movement and to the leadership of the party through the most difficult
years, would in fact come to naught. But I have seen that.
So, I have always felt that when I could no longer carry forward
the dreams of our people in a particular way, I should try to
disengage. And I am, if you ask me, engaged in an exciting process
of disengagement. I need to walk into an interest that will revive
my passion to ensure that our people live the good life in a safe
and secure environment.
Richards: Could I interpret this to mean that you are leaving
Nagamootoo: All I wish to say is that I am phasing myself out.
Richards: How do you intend to revive this interest?
Nagamootoo: It does not mean that I have given up on my love of
my country and my own interest to make a contribution in whatever
way I can. You know, I have said that for people like me who have
been walking for so long in my life, it is hard to walk away.
So if I leave the PPP it does not mean that I am leaving the people.
Richards: This interest you mention, are you looking to see
whether it lies outside the PPP, in the third force?
Nagamootoo: For now, I will rather allow the process to take its
form and its shape. I have come from a political tradition where
I know that form is very difficult to evolve and I don't want
to jump into something that has no definition of itself. I don't
mean to literally jump into or to join, but to comment on it.
All it says that it is a third force, it is something. We saw
two men come forward and say they intend to do something, but
it is something that still doesn't have a definition. It is all
in the realm of probability. But we will see, we will see, if
there is a passion for it among the people.
Denies Resigning from PPP Executive Committee
Does "ah done with all yo" constitute a resignation?
After uttering those words Moses Nagamootoo says the PPP sent
him a letter thanking him for his resignation from the executive
committee of the party.
Contacted yesterday afternoon about his alleged resignation,
Nagamootoo told Stabroek News that he did not resign but objected
to the manner in which concerns of his were being addressed and
then walked out of an executive committee meeting with the remark
"ah done with all yo." He was subsequently sent the
That meeting, he said, occurred on April 15, and on May 13 he
received the letter signed by the party's General Secretary. "I've
had a Stalinist purge," he said, adding "I was resigned
by my colleagues."
He said he walked out of the meeting in disgust because of former
Home Affairs Minister Ronald Gajraj's reinstatement and the manner,
"at least the exit strategy" in which the contentious
affair was being handled.
Some two years earlier, he said, he had asked that investigations
into certain allegations against Gajraj be conducted. He recalled
that self- confessed death squad informant George Bacchus had
visited his office on December 2, 2003 and "told me to watch
my back. He said the boys were aware that I had called for investigations
into allegations against Gajraj." Nagamootoo said he told
Ramotar that Bacchus had visited his chamber and it was necessary
to investigate the leaks.
He felt that the reason for the leadership "resigning"
him was because several party groups have nominated him as a candidate
for the party's executive committee for which elections would
be held at the upcoming PPP Congress. He has written a letter
to General Secretary Donald Ramotar, saying that he has not resigned,
but has received no response.
Nagamootoo said he understood that a smear campaign has been
orchestrated and is in full swing to discredit him and his association
with the PPP.
While he has not resigned from the party, Nagamootoo said that
he has indicated to the party that he would not renew his membership.
Everyone, he said, had been asked to renew their membership before
the upcoming PPP Congress, but that he would not be doing so,
which would make him ineligible to stand for office.
His wife, too, who has been with the party for 35 years had not
renewed her membership. Non-renewal of membership, he said, does
not necessarily mean that you are not a member of the party, but
it does mean that one is no longer a member of good financial
standing. As such he said that he has disqualified himself to
be nominated for office at the elections during the congress.
Apart from the Gajraj affair, he said there are a number of issues
of concern, including governance, the question of national unity,
and strengthening the leadership of the party and its organisation
to make it more effective and responsive to the needs and aspirations
of at least its supporters. These issues, though not new, were
nevertheless developments that surfaced after the death of Dr
On his actions he said he considered himself "a PPP man
taking a strong protest action because of difference with the
Stating that he was prepared to have dialogue with the party's
leadership, he said he does not think that the issues are insurmountable
as he considers the matter of integrity, honesty and honour in
an organisation as very important.
As to whether he would rejoin the party, Nagamootoo said that
he has not severed his relationship with the party. He has no
personal animosity towards the leadership but he feels their interests
are forcing them to take certain positions of hostility as if
the differences over issues cannot be resolved. For example, he
said that when he raised allegations against Gajraj one member
said that he, Nagamootoo, "should know that not all allegations...
could be investigated!" He said he was amazed at the response
because this party (the PPP) took office strongly on the issues
of accountability, good governance and integrity.
Among the matters he has raised with the party's leadership are
the use of Lotto funds and the wildlife and dolphin scam, and
he has also questioned why senior government officials have been
denied visas or had their visas revoked. He said he has nothing
personal against these individuals but he feels when serious issues
are raised they must be investigated.
Asked whether he was joining the Third Force being promoted by
ousted PPP Executive Member Khemraj Ramjattan and former PNCR
member Raphael Trotman, Nagamootoo said he has not closed the
door to the PPP and he has not resigned from the PPP. However,
he said, "Who knows. Even the uncertain can happen! But at
this time, I am not giving it a thought."
Nevertheless, he does not think that any other party or force
or movement coming to the scene was a bad thing because plural
political culture must have room for all, "more politicians,
more revolutionaries, and more democrats because this will help
the country. The best way of going forward is to place options
before your people."mjattan and Trotman, he said, were bright,
young and articulate and have political grooming in the two major
parties. "We have inherited fifty years of political legacy
where we have seen something blooming, but many because of the
political culture, have not been allowed to. They were killed
or pushed out and the climate had been for many years almost barren.
Except for very brief periods. One of those periods was during
the Walter Rodney struggle. Another was when Cheddi Jagan became
the President. There was great excitement, great expectations
among people. So, we are seeing that now there is some expectations
among people that they want a change... I believe that theoretically
a third force or whatever you may call it, should be welcome."
At present, he said he was involved in a protest and in sending
"a serious message to the members and supporters of my party,
the PPP, that they should start raising questions, and one of
the questions should be, 'What are they doing to comrade Moses?'
and another could be, 'Should we allow an interest group to do
what they are doing to comrade oses?'"
His main reason for going public at this point in time he said
was because he was aware that the party's congress was coming
up and he wanted party members and supporters to understand the
current smear campaign was to get people to believe that he was
"leaving and joining the third or whatever force... Many
persons approached me to join up with some other force. My position
is that I am not walking into any other force. I have to see what
the mood of the society is, but I am not a member of a third force,
I am not associated with any such force. I have not even given
it a serious thought."
Yet, he said, "The slander campaign will not help because
if I cannot find a platform in the PPP to advance those ideals
with which I have been associated all my life, I certainly will
find a platform elsewhere once the people are receptive to what
I have to offer. I am not closing the door to anything. The options
[are] wide open."He said he considered his "ouster from
the leadership of the PPP a bloodless assassination, at least
for now. And those who have scripted my assassination, my political
assassination... have been allowed so far to get away with it."
Stabroek News was unable to contact a senior PPP official yesterday
for a response.
Editor's Note: Article from Stabroek News, July 3rd, 2005. Interviews
from Channel 2 (done July 1st) and Kaieteur News respectively